In The Fields – Community Driven Innovation Hits The Road in Poland

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Did you know that TechSoup Global has its European Headquaters in Warsaw, Poland? The office known under the name of Fundacja TechSoup plays both the role of the European hub, and an independent Polish nonprofit. Billy Bicket and Laney Strange are currently visiting Fundacja TechSoup’s Office in Poland. In an effort to understand the local reality and therefore be able to develop new programs and projects that would be actually community driven, the CDI team went to interview NGOs in the Polish countryside.

Who Did We Talk To?

On our one-day trip we visited 3 different local NGOs:

  • W.A.R.K.A. Association, which is based in the city of Warka, one of the oldest cities in the Mazovia region. It is an NGO that supports the local social activities and encourages initiatives coming from Warka and surroundings. W.A.R.K.A. partners with many social actors: organizations, as well as informal groups or individuals.
  • Association for the Development of the Kozietuły Village from Kozietuły. The Association was created in order to reopen a local grammar school that had been closed by the local government. The educational offering is the Association’s main focus, although they currently apply for funding that would help them go beyond their primary program.
  • The Association for The Future of Our Children from Izabelin Górki. The last NGO that we visited doesn’t even have an office. We were hosted by the organization’s board president – Ewelina Jarecka in her house in the village of Izabelin Górki. The Future Of Our Children is an organization that focuses on helping kids with physical and mental disabilities and was created by the parents of kids in need.

What Did We Learn?

Small NGOs see the value of using technology, but new tools are usually not the first thing they can afford to focus on. The organizations we visited are understaffed and generally underresourced; they learn technology and apply for online grants with the help of friends, or friends of friends. People working in a small NGO share responsibilities, so that each member or employee has to be prepared to cover everything from fundraising to event’s logistics. In such environment any form of ICT support  is always appreciated. Although most organizations are familiar with the product donations available through Polish Technologie Non-profit Donation’s Program, sometimes what they need is not only the resource but the know-how. They would like to learn how to use technology to help them gain information, raise money, communicate better as well as spread the word about what they are doing. The three organizations we talked to would definitely appreciate support coming in a form of expert’s advice or a help from volunteer(s).

The Next Steps

The local CDI representatives (Alicja Peszkowska and Anna Kuliberda) with the support of the entire team will be working on developing smart solutions for how to re-distribute the knowledge and the ICT know-how between the ICT specialist, social activists, bigger and smaller NGOs. Yesterday’s study trip was exploratory in terms of understanding the factors that any further actions will need to address. We also hoped that we developed a relationship with our further allies and beneficiaries.

Stay tuned for the update on our work and projects, and further news concerning Polish NPtech. We will be examining the landscape very carefully to make sure that our projects don’t get lost in translation!